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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


New bill will emphasize border means business

August 27, 2013

On the border of San Diego and Tijuana sits San Ysidro, the busiest land port of entry in the world. Every day, an astounding 50,000 vehicles and 25,000 pedestrians wait in line to enter the U.S. One in eight people who cross into the country daily will do so via the San Ysidro Port of Entry. And that’s only one of California’s six ports of entry.

The border provides enormous economic opportunities for the region, but wait times are impeding our ability to harness this potential. Current infrastructure needs must be addressed. According to the San Diego Metropolitan Export Initiative: Market Assessment, San Ysidro is an “infrastructural bottleneck,” with many respondents citing difficulties with border crossing as a barrier to doing business in Mexico.  Even with the recent expansion of several border crossings, today’s average wait time sits at 70 minutes, translating into more than eight million trips lost due to congestion each year. In fact, more jobs are lost in San Diego every year to border congestion than the government’s recent budget sequestration.*

A new bill is trying to speed up border wait times. SB 397, sponsored by Sen. Ben Hueso (D- San Diego), calls for the creation of an Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL), which will permit carriers to use “Ready Lanes.” The technology in these new driver licenses, which will be issued by California’s DMV—eliminates the need to manually key –in travelers information, translating into a 60 percent faster processing time.

Several Canadian border states have successfully implemented EDLs and Arizona and Texas are working on instituting similar programs for our neighbors to the south.  

Although SB 397 is only a small part of a long string of reforms that are needed to expedite border crossing, it’s a step in the right direction. The San Diego region cannot afford to lose out on the $1.3 billion in revenue and $ 42 million in wages that dissipate due to border congestion every year. The border is one of the most unique aspects about the region. Companies including 3Drobotics and Aqualung don’t shy away from the fact that this is one of the reasons they are proud to call San Diego home. Through work with the CaliBaja Bi-National Mega-Region, EDC understands the fundamental necessity of teaming with Baja California, Mexico and Imperial County to the East.

Bottom line: the border means big business for the mega region. SB 397 is one step in helping us maximize our cross-border potential.

 

Sources:  AB 17, SB 397, SB 397 Fact Sheet

*Projected impact of sequestration was 10 percent of military personal across board in San Diego; Recent SDMAC report found that the military had  311,000 direct employees in the region, SDMAC Military Impact Report 2012

 


 

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